Gender and Politics

Why is Hilary Clinton one of the few female prospects for the 2016 presidential election? What would it mean if she wins and becomes the first female president in the U.S.? Why are so few heads of state women? In this course, we will examine how gender plays a role in political institutions, participation, and representation in the U.S. as well as in the transnational context. Three questions will be explored: (1) To what extent do women and men think, believe, and act differently from each other in politics and what might explain these differences? (2) To what extent are political processes and institutions and social structures gendered and how might they shape women’s and men’s political activities? (3) Why are women underrepresented in politics and to what extent do female political leaders have an impact? We will also pay close attention to how women differ among themselves in the realm of politics, particularly when their identities as women intersect with race, ethnicity, economic class, and sexuality.

Download the syllabus (University of Edinburgh)

Download the syllabus (Smith College)

Download the syllabus (Penn State)

Feedback from students

“I really enjoyed the group discussions. I feel like Dr. Liu managed to involve everyone in the discussions a lot better than most professors at this university. This course was actually the only one I felt wasn’t extremely Western biased – for two reasons. First of all, Dr. Liu managed to create a room where people who’s English isn’t perfect still felt comfortable saying more than one sentence which I see as very valuable for my education because this made me understand perspectives very different from mine. Second of all, the literature was very well selected and not only from white males (something very dominant in other courses).”

I really liked how the teacher created a class for PG students that allowed for the practice of writing a research proposal- I think this is incredible effective in allowing students the practice and skill set (and confidence) in which to actually go through with a research proposal in the future, which for women can really help encourage them through practice to strive for a PhD, whereas without it a woman might continually feel under-qualified or lack the confidence to pursue. I also really appreciate the teacher’s approach and passion for the content. I liked the class setup (tables) and appreciated when the professor jumped in and encouraged more questions rather than stayed removed, it felt less “observation-pressured” and more inclusive, plus her challenges were always insightful and exciting. Thank you for an incredible learning experience! I’ll never see the world the same and loved studying and comparing other government systems too- I never had exposure to comparisons before!”

I thought each class was meticulously prepared and well thought out each and every week. Truly, Sarah was an excellent, incredibly intelligent, informative lecturer who created a safe and intellectually stimulating learning environment. She made office hours and outside-of-classroom (email) support very accessible. I will miss this course the most, and envy those who get to take it with Sarah in the future.”

“The class is really organized in a clear and effective way. The in-class and reading materials are really interested, containing a lot of well-written research papers as well as news nowadays. In addition, the whole course covers various issues under the topic of gender and politics, and helps us to gain a lot of important mindsets like intersectionality.”

“Dr. Liu is very knowledgeable in her field, and so I felt that having her as a course instructor was very informative and thought- provoking. The way in which she organised the lectures and seminars were conducive to a rich learning environment and encouraged discussion amongst us students. Sarah has likewise been very helpful in being open and available to us students for questions about our essays as well. She’s been wonderful!”

“I enjoyed the class and group activities. I have never done an in-class poll or debate like we did in this class. It was fun and encouraged us to think about things differently or at least from a different point of view.”

“The way the assignments were spaced out were so helpful and I really appreciated it. I also think the reading was a good amount and that the number of responses we did was good. I liked the structure and organization of the class.”

“The teaching style of Prof. Liu is really organized. She carefully prepares for each slide and the time of discussion for each topics. She leads and provokes discussions on class, and also increases students’ participation through small group discussions, debates etc.”

“Her strength lies in getting students to dig deeper in their answers.”

“I believe the group work and types of readings approached in this class were wonderful.”

“The in-class discussions about the 2016 election were really interesting and I appreciated hearing the reactions and insights from my peers about what had happened.”

“The class discussion was a very valuable feature in that I was able to understand different perspectives than my own.”

“Very good, would take a class with her again”

“Clear with expectations and directions. Helpful with office hours. Good group discussions, but not often enough. Media usage in class helpful. I liked the news articles you assigned us to read.”

“It’s clear that Prof. Liu wants to get to know her students and have them come into office hours to get to know each other better and talk about things beyond this
course, which I appreciated.”

“I liked how the readings came from a wide variety of sources and backgrounds, and displayed many different and often conflicting viewpoints. I particularly enjoyed the Sandberg/hooks pieces we read. I found the student presentations somewhat interesting, but it was totally dependent upon the public speaking skills of the person presenting. For some of the student presentations, I got very little out of it.”

“Gives great feedback in office hours, seems to want students to do well and to care about student well being. Is involved with/current with student goings-on (e.g. knows about lectures and events that students go to etc). Does a great job of keeping Moodle updated and returning assignments in a timely manner.”

“Professor Liu is incredibly kind, approachable and knowledgeable.”

“Always willing to help, very knowledgeable about the subject matter.”